There’s been a mixed start for snooker’s newest professionals at the 12bet.com UK Championship qualifiers in Sheffield.
There were wins in the first qualifying round for Jack Lisowski, Liam Highfield, Kyren Wilson and Adam Wicheard but defeats for Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, Kuldesh Johal, Igor Figueiredo, Reanne Evans and Jak Jones.
Wicheard’s reward for his 9-3 defeat of Joe Delaney is a meeting with 1992 UK champion Jimmy White.
Highfield held off Johal 9-7 and will now face the super-fast Maltese Tony Drago.
Wilson beat experienced Yorkshireman Paul Davison 9-6 and now tackles Lancashire potter Ian McCulloch.
Lisowski, already confirmed for the PTC grand finals next March, takes on Matt Selt, a practise partner from The Grove in Romford, as was his first victim, Zhang Anda.
Young Jack contributes a monthly column for Snooker Scene about life on the tour. He says he is still learning all the time but is loving every minute of his time as a snooker professional.
The other side of the coin, though, is the disappointment of an early defeat in the game’s second biggest event.
Figueiredo qualified for the World Open but won only four frames against Liu Chuang while 16 year-old Thai Tirapongpaiboon went down 9-2 to Ben Woollaston.
Evans is still yet to win a match all season. She appears to be stuck in some sort of snooker limbo: too good for the other women but not yet good enough to challenge the men.
Another first season pro is Anthony McGill who, thanks to the new ranking system, has already made it into the top 64.
The Scot meets Northern Ireland’s Patrick Wallace, a World Championship quarter-finalist in 2001, in the second qualifying round.
The two session matches require a shift in focus for all players after the endless best of sevens in the PTCs.
The experienced players are thus at an advantage because they understand the mental approach necessary in the longer form tournaments.
But it would be good to see a few new faces in Telford.